Vegas Trip Notes – BS Player on the Strip

  • wwcd

    Vegas Trip Notes – BS Player on the Strip

    I just came back from my Memorial-day weekend Vegas trip and wanted to comment on BJ conditions at various places that I played at. Since I’m a BS player, my comments will mainly be helpful for the BS players, but counters might find some of the information (shuffling conditions, minimums etc.) helpful as well. I solely played on the strip, and never went to off-strip or downtown (I just don’t like the rundown, dumpy vibe, or find the remote locations unnecessary). All games I played of course had BJ 3:2 payout. But, most of these casinos had single decks, paying 6:5, so beware of the single decks.

    Monte Carlo: My favorite place throughout my trip. Although I haven’t stayed there, I was there most of the time on the BJ tables. I believe this is the best place on the strip for a BS player. During the busiest times of the weekend, they always had a lot of $10 tables with very liberal rules such as DAS, DOA, Surrender, RSA. Some of you might not like these, but for $10, these were by far the best rules on the strip, at a pretty upscale place in a great location. On Monday, they even lowered most of those tables to $5 minimums, with the same rules. People usually comment on MC to attract mostly older crowd, but I think there was a good mix. I also haven’t seen much ploppie behavior; people mostly seemed to know what they’re doing. MC used ASMs, and 8D shoes. There is a little cut in the shoe, from where the dealer slides in the cut card, so the pen is always exactly the same (I believe ~2 decks, but I’m not a pro on this stuff).
    MGM: Exact same rules with MC, but during the peak times, there was no table under $15, and on Monday they lowered those tables to $10. I played for a while (before learning that MC lowered limits to $5). The only difference was that they do hand shuffle, no ASMs here.

    Mirage/Bellagio: Both have exact same rules with MC and MGM, however they both use CSMs. They usually feed the discarded cards back into the machine every other hand. They always had $10 tables available to my surprise. It was interesting to play at a really classy location like Bellagio for $10 with pretty good rules. But, even as a BS player, CSMs made me feel a little uncomfortable. Most of you guys don’t like it because obviously, you cannot count with a CSM, but my reasoning was that I don’t like to or want to trust a machine. I’d rather have all 416 cards in my sight during the whole dealing session. Maybe I’m too suspicious but that’s me, so this made me go back to MC more often.

    Excalibur: Didn’t play much, so cannot comment on the rules, but I believe they were the same with other MGM properties. As far as I remember they had CSMs and they almost always had a $5 table, which was packed the whole time with 10 more people camped back in line.

    Mandalay Bay/Luxor/NYNY: Couldn’t find any table under $15, so never played at these places. Can’t comment on the rules as I only checked the table limits. On Monday, they had some $10 tables, but so did MGM, which was a much more crowded place (better for BS players).

    Aria: Nothing under $25, got in and out pretty quickly.

    MGM Mirage player rating: All the casinos I played except Excalibur refused to rate under $15, and Bellagio actually even asked for $25 to be rated. So, I almost always played unrated, but what the hell (as if the lousy NA casinos give good comps to a red chipper). For you counters out there, this might even work to your advantage, because you don’t even have to bother with a cover. Just start off with a $10 bet, and they won’t even ask whether you have a player’s card. Obviously this applies to MGM and MC as Mirage and Bellagio have CSMs.

    Treasure Island: This place was like a ghost town, even at peak times, with lots of empty $10 tables. They had only one $5 table which had only one player! So, on a Saturday evening of an extended weekend, a $5 table on the strip in a nice hotel being empty was pretty weird. Seems to me these guys are not doing well in terms of bringing traffic to the casino. All other locations on the strip were bustling with action, while TI was in snooze mode. I played on the $5 table, but I really was bored since I couldn’t enjoy it much with two players on the table. So, I don’t even remember the rules (didn’t have to surrender or RSA) and conditions. PC refused to rate my play under $10/bet, I said “really?”. Was out after about 20 minutes of play.

    Tropicana: Lots of $5 tables available at peak and off-peak times. It was fun to play here, when I didn’t want to risk a lot of money at $10 tables at MGM properties. However, Trop rules were not as good, as they didn’t offer Surrender. They use CSMs, and usually wait 2-3 hands before they feed back the discarded cards to the machine. I think their casino got remodeled, so it was looking pretty cool. Though, the casino was so brilliantly lighted, it felt a little bit like an office. It felt just like playing in the daylight. As a fun fact, Trop had the best and the newest chips on the whole strip. They’re very nicely designed and literally brand new, and was fun to play with during the game.

    Venetian: Nothing under $25, got in and out quickly.

    Harrah’s properties: Wow, these places were really ridiculous. They not only have the same minimums with MGM group hotels, but also the worst possible rules. Whoever plays in these places should be banned from BJ altogether. It’s like an insult when they ask for $15 minimum at Flamingo, with 6:5 payout, while you can just cross the street and play at the beautiful Bellagio for $10 and 1%+ more player edge. I would’ve understood if they had $2-$3 tables, so in that case, one can understand that they also need to make money. O’sheas and Casino Royale apply the same bad rules, but at least they have ridiculously low minimums, so they’re good just for fun. But all Harrah’s hotels were double greedy both with the rules and the minimums.

  • chichow

    Vegas Trip Notes – BS Player on the Strip

    Nice post – Good info for the $10 dollar red chipper.

  • SleightOfHand

     

    Quote: wwcd said:
    harrah’s properties: Wow, these places were really ridiculous. They not only have the same minimums with mgm group hotels, but also the worst possible rules. Whoever plays in these places should be banned from bj altogether. It’s like an insult when they ask for $15 minimum at flamingo, with 6:5 payout, while you can just cross the street and play at the beautiful bellagio for $10 and 1%+ more player edge. I would’ve understood if they had $2-$3 tables, so in that case, one can understand that they also need to make money. O’sheas and casino royale apply the same bad rules, but at least they have ridiculously low minimums, so they’re good just for fun. But all harrah’s hotels were double greedy both with the rules and the minimums.

    qft

  • NightStalker

    CSM sucks

    Quote: wwcd said:
    Mirage/Bellagio: Both have exact same rules with MC and MGM, however they both use CSMs. But, even as a BS player, CSMs made me feel a little uncomfortable. Most of you guys don’t like it because obviously, you cannot count with a CSM, but my reasoning was that I don’t like to or want to trust a machine. I’d rather have all 416 cards in my sight during the whole dealing session. Maybe I’m too suspicious but that’s me, so this made me go back to MC more often.

    You are absolutely correct, no one knows what’s going inside that bulky machine.. Never play CSM

  • muppet

     

    wwcd – just curious, is your first name 2 syllables and start with a ‘C’?

  • wwcd

     

    Quote: muppet said:
    wwcd – just curious, is your first name 2 syllables and start with a ‘C’?

    two syllables, yes.. start with a c, no…

  • bj2I

     

    Thanks for the post. The wife and I are heading to Vegas in a week.

  • NightStalker

    Similar trip, different bet range.. some observations

    s17,ds,ls,rsa 6deck and s17,ds DD
    Mandalay Bay has 15$min-day and 25$min-night. Lots of black play. No card hassle.
    Bellagio: 50-day and after 3am.. otherwise 100..My black chips were invisible with plops’s purples/yellows..
    TI: 25-day and 50-evening in HL room. HL mostly empty and sweaty..
    M: similar to bellagio, but s17 games only in HL and 1table open mostly
    Stations: great DD pen, sweat and trouble while cashing big chips.. Din’t even ask for card on my black action. Plops betting 5k chips in HL on bacca..
    Green Valley: same as TI but tolerant,observant: taking notes about proper BS plays also.
    MGM: same as bellagio
    NYNY: s17 only in HL with 50-day and 100-night. Sweat and empty.

  • muppet

     

    Quote: wwcd said:
    two syllables, yes.. start with a c, no…

    drats guess i was wrong. what does wwcd stand for?

  • chichow

     

    what would charles/chris/carey/etc do?

  • SleightOfHand

     

    winner winner chicken dinner?

  • paddywhack

    Gotta think that’s the winner

    Quote: SleightOfHand said:
    winner winner chicken dinner?

    Hat’s off Sleight, think you nailed it.

    paddy

  • wwcd

     

    Quote: paddywhack said:
    Hat’s off Sleight, think you nailed it.

    paddy

    yep he did

  • winr_winr_chicken_dinner!

     

    Yep, I think that was it!

  • EarthBowser

     

    Quote: NightStalker said:
    You are absolutely correct, no one knows what’s going inside that bulky machine.. Never play CSM

    Since you were only using BS, aren’t you guys being a little paranoid/superstitious when you don’t want to play CSM? I was under the impression that it actually lowered the house advantage a slight bit.

    http://wizardofodds.com/blackjack/appendix10.html

    You don’t really think that the casino is rigging the machines do you?

  • SleightOfHand

     

    Quote: EarthBowser said:
    Since you were only using BS, aren’t you guys being a little paranoid/superstitious when you don’t want to play CSM? I was under the impression that it actually lowered the house advantage a slight bit.

    http://wizardofodds.com/blackjack/appendix10.html

    You don’t really think that the casino is rigging the machines do you?

    Lower house advantage, high play speed. Not worth it.

  • EarthBowser

     

    That’s a perfectly legit reason since your money will be exposed to the house advantage more often, so your expected hourly loss will increase. It just irks me when people refuse to play them because they don’t “trust the machines.”

  • Sonny

     

    Quote: SleightOfHand said:
    Lower house advantage, high play speed.

    The speed of play is dictated by the players.

    -Sonny-

  • winr_winr_chicken_dinner!

     

    Quote: EarthBowser said:
    That’s a perfectly legit reason since your money will be exposed to the house advantage more often, so your expected hourly loss will increase. It just irks me when people refuse to play them because they don’t “trust the machines.”

    Yeah, I guess it would be “impossible” to have a machine malfunction and/or a card stick in the mechanism and go unnoticed for a whole shift or two, right? Oh wait, that just happened recently – casino ended up paying a fine or two because of it…

    I like it hand shuffled please, spread ‘em out, let me see ‘em, wash ‘em, then shuffle and deal them!

  • EarthBowser

     

    Quote: winr_winr_chicken_dinner! said:
    Yeah, I guess it would be “impossible” to have a machine malfunction and/or a card stick in the mechanism and go unnoticed for a whole shift or two, right? Oh wait, that just happened recently – casino ended up paying a fine or two because of it…

    I like it hand shuffled please, spread ‘em out, let me see ‘em, wash ‘em, then shuffle and deal them!

    Of course it’s not impossible. More like very unlikely. You said yourself the casino ended up paying fines, that tells me the casino is going make sure it happens as little as possible. If you’re not playing with a CSM just because of that reasoning, you might as well not play a normal shuffled shoe game either. The Ace of Hearts can easily be overlooked and left in the box when opening a table, or a manufacturing error can leave a card out of the box and not be noticed by a dealer and floor person who have been going through tons of other boxes of cards. Basically it seems to me that what you just said is no reason to refuse playing a CSM over a hand shuffled shoe, but more like rationalizing a personal preference.

  • ooter

     

    Couple things I saw in Vegas last weekend…

    Downtown properties have $5 tables with good odds/penetration (everything you expect on a DD except stay on S17), which was great for teaching my friend how to count. They seem to be super paranoid down there though. Got kicked out of one casino after 30ish minutes of a 5-30 spread (on a side note, really? how much money could I possibly win with that spread? was just trying to teach my friend how to count). Other casinos I constantly overheard pit bosses saying to each other stuff about watching me whenever I raised my bet.
    Wish I could remember the names of the casinos downtown. One had a single deck $5 min, $500 max table with shitty rules (DD only 10/11, no DAS) but it had great pen and paid 3:2 BJ. Not sure how beatable that game is?

    MGM: Love this place. Can sit at a DD table all day with a 25 min, 2×100 max spread and never have any problems. I always give out my players card there too and get great comps. Not sure how it would be for counters who bet bigger money (my paltry bankroll is probably the reason no one there cares about me). Plus the patrons of MGM generally have a good respect for the game. When the count is high, I’ve never had a problem when asking someone if they minded letting me finish out the shoe before coming in. Another cool thing is they let their high rollers ask for shuffles mid-shoe. I sat next to a guy flat betting 10k a hand. When the count was pretty bad, I’d start chatting to him about awful this shuffle/cut was and a couple times he asked for a reshuffle. Kind of cool.

    TI: Floor DD had awful pen. HL DD game was good, but pit boss started shuffling every time I raised my bet after about 20 minutes of 50-200 spread.

    Harrah’s Properties: As others have said, awful awful rules. It’s sad most players aren’t more discriminate with their games, because it lets casinos do this stuff.

    NYNY: Floor DDs have awful pen (~55% I’d say). The HL DD is good, about 75%, but dealers hits S17. Played there for a few hours with no heat, even when I was the only person in the room.

    Trop: Crappy rules unless you ask them to open a DD game for you (min 100 bet per hand for that). I’m not sure if that would be the best way to fly under the radar though…

    Also, seems like there are lots of attractive girls at NYNY and Trop. Can be very distracting if you are like me, and care more about picking up girls than keeping the count haha.

  • wwcd

     

    For me the reasons for not liking CSM are:

    – Like it was said, potential malfunctions (casinos regularly refuse to pay multi million jackpots due to malfunctions, so yes in all sort of machines, there is a potential malfunction)
    – Speed of game, CSM’s are very fast and I’d rather be chatting with other players when the dealer is hand shuffling the decks – increases the fun, reduces the house edge dollars
    – Big black box, I just don’t trust it. Call it the history of Vegas, or me playing at NA casinos most of the time, I just don’t like to trust a casino. There are tremendous amount of cases, where dealer mispays, and although they seem to be unintentional, who can prove it? And I’ve read a lot of cases where people counted more small cards than there should be etc. These types of things can still occur in hand shuffled games, but it’s much easier to catch compared to a CSM. Also, in a couple instances, when I asked, NA casinos refused to lay the new cards on the felt face up. I asked why and they shut me up by saying that it’s their policy. An organization that provides its patrons with free booze, aromatic scents, mood lighting, bad playing advice, and hot dealer/crappy rule combination with one certain goal “to part the customers with their money as quickly as possible” doesn’t create much trust in my heart for it.
    – Preferential shuffle, some dealers put the cards back into CSM right away, some wait for a couple hands. It’s regular most of the time, but sometimes I noticed that after a lot of face cards are out, they wait for a while to put them back in (and the opposite with a lot of small cards out). Although I cannot prove, I don’t like the idea of preferential treatment. If it was a rule to feed the machine after every single hand, maybe this can be prevented. This is also a reason for me to avoid double deck pitch game at one of my local NA casinos. They seem to put the smartest dealers there, who immediately sense that the deck got hotter and they shuffle right away (they don’t use a cut card like they do in a shoe game).

  • ooter

     

    I have an idea about CSMs. Not sure if it is plausible. Say the dealer puts cards back in the CSM after there is 30 cards in the discard tray (it could be any number, this is just an example). If the dealer is dealing out primarily low cards, you will play less hands before the dealer puts the cards back in because it will be quicker to reach 30 cards in the tray (since people take more hits with low cards, and often split low cards against low cards). If the dealer is dealing out high cards, they will sit in the tray for more hands because people are likely to stay on 20s, BJ, etc.

    Could this effect the odds of CSM games in any meaningful or measurable way?

  • ChefJJ

     

    Quote: Sonny said:
    The speed of play is dictated by the players.

    -Sonny-

    And you can always take breaks (restroom, etc.). Do that enough and you may break even in the number of hands lost during shuffles.

    good luck

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